On track towards boosting climate resilience: IMPETUS reviews progress and plans

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Helping communities to find their path to becoming resilient to the local impacts of climate change is the core goal of the EU-funded IMPETUS project. Understanding how the numerous and varied elements of this complex project will work together in practice was a significant step taken in the first face-to-face ‘all hands’ partners’ meeting. Participants in the General Assembly on 13-14 October 2022 reviewed year-one achievements and plans for upcoming activities, ensuring work is on track to deliver on the project goals.

The ability to prepare for, adjust to and recover or possibly even benefit from changes – described as ‘resilience’ – is vital for the long-term socio-economic, ecological and human (physical and mental) health of communities. IMPETUS is combining scientific data and digital tools in a way that communities can interact with while they work together to explore their best options and make decisions that help them adjust to climate change. This approach to boosting knowledge about climate change resilience should ultimately be usable by any community that wants to modify it to suit their situation. Within IMPETUS, this ‘Resilience Knowledge Booster’ (RKB) model is being developed through diverse technical and human-centric activities, and will be tested and validated by communities in the project’s seven demonstration sites around Europe.

A shared vision and a beautiful view

An interactive workshop session during the General Assembly asked IMPETUS participants to reflect on their own work within the project’s bigger context. Placing sticky notes on a large-scale diagram and discussing the relationships between project tasks and the workflows depicted, helped participants to better understand how all their contributions will combine. This shared vision will enhance internal and external communications and strengthen the project team’s ability to deliver its big-picture RKB framework, as well as many of its more specific or local ambitions.

One such local ambition is to restore sand dunes while using and developing best practices, as a way to protect coastal areas in Catalonia against stormy seas. A field trip to see locations where such work has and will take place provided a brief but welcome dose of sun, sea and sand and some beautiful views for around 50 IMPETUS participants who attended the General Assembly in Barcelona in person.

Achievements in year one

Back in the meeting venue, the achievements made in the project’s first year, regarding development of the RKBs and the more local activities of the demo site teams, were presented.  

The key achievements of the IMPETUS technical teams during year one of the project include:

  • Completion of the initial technical design and data architecture for the RKB approach;
  • Generation of climate data for the seven IMPETUS demonstration sites, from climate models and datasets using hydrological data (e.g. soil moisture, water levels) and land use information from Earth observation satellites and other open repositories;
  • Development of data processing and modelling steps that will allow the generation of high-resolution datasets and the projection of future scenarios and economic impacts;
  • Definition of climate change indicators (such as heat vulnerability) and related metrics (such as legislation adjustments), plus their validation and improvement based on community stakeholders’ feedback;
  • Development of a web-based ‘hot-spot’ tool that uses these indicators and metrics in identifying high-risk or highly vulnerable regions and will allow communities to prioritise them.

The teams focusing on ‘human dimension’ IMPETUS activities:

  • Supported demo site teams in initiating contacts with and gathering information from their regional stakeholders through regional surveys.
  • Around 400 representatives of businesses, environmental groups, industry, media, civil society groups, research organisations and others shared their knowledge, concerns and ideas about climate change and its impacts.
  • This paves the way for planning more detailed engagement and communication activities for the next year of the project.
  • Around 600 stakeholders were identified for such further collaboration.

The specific climate change challenges and solutions that the demo site teams tackle are highly diverse. Their key achievements during year one of IMPETUS include:

  • Berlin metropolitan area, ‘Continental’ bioclimatic region –
    – Identified synergies with the Berlin Masterplan for Water;
    – Completed a first open dataset analysis of surface- and ground-water levels to visualise the effects of recent dry years.
  • Catalonia, ‘Coastal’ bioclimatic region –
    – Established the experimental basis for the construction of a multi-functional wetland to test water treatment in flood risk areas of the Ebro Delta;
    – Designed a bioreactor to treat water from seaside campsites for irrigation and other purposes.
  • Athens and wider Attica, ‘Mediterranean’ bioclimatic region –
    – Tendered for a pumping station and construction of a sewer mining unit that will reclaim water for urban irrigation;
    – Investigated existing digital infrastructure that can provide the basis for a Digital Twin of the region.
  • Zeeland and Rijnmond, ‘Atlantic’ bioclimatic region –
    – Defined key technical aspects of decision support tools focusing on flooding, heat stress, and industrial decarbonisation;
    – Held workshops and meetings with relevant municipalities and other stakeholders to initiate engagement and obtain first feedback on the tools.
  • Troms and Finnmark, ‘Arctic’ bioclimatic region –
    – Held workshops and meetings with various authorities and stakeholders about climate-proofing of Tromsø city centre;
    – Acquired data, began design, and achieved funding for a PhD position to create an early warning system for rockfalls, landslides and avalanches.
  • Zemgale, ‘Boreal’ bioclimatic region –
    – Identified locations for new equipment and found national data sources for the upgrading of a flooding early warning system from city to regional scale;
    – Defined an activity plan for creation and installation of a regional digital twin.
  • Valle dei Laghi, ‘Mountains’ bioclimatic region –
    – Collected and analysed data and met stakeholders regarding activities focusing on water usage, wine production, cultural heritage and insurance impacts of climate change;
    – Drafted a collaboration proposal for a relevant local insurance company.

During the first project year, IMPETUS also liaised with sister projects and several partners presented project activities and results in events related to climate change and water, wine production, space technology and Earth observation, and global sustainable development, among others. Information about some of these can be found in the IMPETUS website events and stories pages.

Future activities

In year two of IMPETUS, partners will step up demo site activities and efforts to engage with their community stakeholders, co-develop materials for the sharing of knowledge, and develop further tools that will form the ‘digital dimension’ of the RKBs.

Further information

The IMPETUS General Assembly in Barcelona on 13-14 October 2022 was hosted by the project’s lead partner Eurecat.


High temperatures

Record-breaking summertime temperatures have been recorded in the Netherlands in recent years. With global temperatures rising, such extreme weather events will occur more often, and for longer periods. Prolonged high temperatures, with warm nights as well as hot days, can cause heat stress* and related health issues, particularly among city populations.

*Heat stress occurs when the human body cannot get rid of excess heat and can impact wellbeing through conditions such as heat stroke, exhaustion, cramps and rashes.

"We want to enable municipality decision makers who are working on spatial developments to identify heat stress 'hot spots' and cool areas, analyse the future effects of climate change, and model the effect of different heat stress-reducing measures. The tool must provide them with an easy starting point to integrate heat stress risks in their projects."


Despite the cooling effect of the sea in the region of Zeeland, the growing risk of heat stress has become a concern.

Elderly and other vulnerable people are more impacted by the effects of prolonged heat, which can cause headaches, dizziness, insomnia and other health issues – even death. Excess temperatures also affect general comfort and liveability of cities. Water quality can be reduced, both for drinking and swimming, and infrastructure can be affected. Buildings and concrete surfaces trap heat, potentially leading to damage, and release it during the night, keeping temperatures warm.

During heat waves, it is important that everyone has access to a cool and comfortable place. Appropriate spatial planning can help to decrease and deal with heat stress. Environmental factors like water bodies, trees, and shade have a major impact on stress caused by high temperatures. Therefore, planting trees, removing concrete surfaces, creating green roofs and cool spaces can improve our comfort and health. The IMPETUS Atlantic team is developing a digital tool to support regional decision making for city planning to address these needs.


Flood risk

By 2050, sea-level within this region is predicted to rise by 15-40 cm, with more frequent extreme weather and more (severe) storms triggered by climate change. These changes will exacerbate the natural risk of flooding in the IMPETUS ‘Atlantic’ region, because it is surrounded by rivers and the sea, and is below sea level.

*Risk takes into account two aspects; the chance that an event will occur and the negative impact of such an event once it occurs. When there is a low chance that an event will occur, but its impacts are huge, the risk is still significant.

“In the Netherlands, an extensive system of dikes protects us against sea and river flooding. We have always put our faith in this defence and focused almost solely on flood prevention. However, pressure on our system will increase with climate change and rising sea levels. To adapt and maintain a safe living environment, we should develop other safety measures, like more robust spatial planning and contingency plans."


Rotterdam city, is located in Rijnmond – ‘mouth of the Rhine’. The Rhine river flows through this densely populated area and characterises the region. Protections such as sea dikes and storm surge barriers have been constructed to protect the region, but flooding still occurs.

People living in the city are accustomed to seeing smaller floods. The changing climate affects the interplay between rainfall, river levels and sea storms, increasing the flooding risk. Water levels could rise by a few metres, even in populated areas, with potentially massive impacts. 

Mitigation measures such as storm surge barriers reduce the chance that high water reaches the city, but to minimise the impact of floods when they do occur, adaptation strategies are also needed. A city that can adapt to be safe from floods must be carefully designed. How best to design such an adaptive city?

Critical infrastructure, such as hospitals and evacuation routes, must be accessible at all times. Planning how to best protect them, homes and lives is complex. Flood water behaves in a complex way and flood risks show strong spatial variations. The IMPETUS Atlantic team is developing a digital tool to support regional decision making for adaptive city planning. 


Energy and waste water

To become climate-neutral by 2050, climate mitigation* efforts are crucial in our strategy for how to deal with climate change. Reducing our energy consumption is a significant mitigation step. In the Netherlands, 15% of energy is consumed in the Rijnmond area around the port of Rotterdam, in large part by a major petrochemical industry cluster.

*Climate mitigation encompasses measures such as technologies, processes, or practices that reduce carbon emissions or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases.


The Rotterdam port petrochemical industry cluster is Europe’s largest. It consumes 70% of the Rijnmond region’s energy. A large part of this energy is wasted (64%, 203 petajoules). More than half of that energy is lost with wastewater. In addition, most energy processes within these industries rely on fossil fuels, which has a significant impact on the climate.

Energy use must be minimised and fossil fuels should be replaced by renewable sources if climate change is to be mitigated. Electrification of processes opens up the possibility to use more renewable energy and can greatly impact decarbonisation. Recovering wasted heat would significantly reduce energy consumption and is a first step towards a more circular industry. 

Supporting industries in a transition towards climate-neutrality depends on identifying how best to reduce their carbon footprint without sacrificing production or performance. The IMPETUS Atlantic team is creating a digital tool that supports decision making about pathways towards an effective energy transition for EU industry.